Search This Blog

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Save 15% On Your Proton Insurance With Geico.

Starting in a couple of weeks the Large Hadron Collider will start warming up and getting aligned. A few weeks after that some of the most serious collisions ever  on the surface of the earth will start tearing protons into their constituent parts. Quarks. Up Down Charm Strange Top Bottom and their anti-Quark partners. I suppose the real question is: "Is there finer structure beyond Quarks?" Strings? Quantum Loop Gravity? Holographic Brames of M theory? The size of the LHC at CERN allows the magnets to accelerate the protons and anti-protons in opposite beams to within 1/10 of 1% of the speed of light. Speed means mass and energy, and when the speeding hadrons collide the mass and energy blow the little bags of quarks apart. They still have to hit each other at pretty much dead center to effect the necessary shattering of matter. 

Strangely enough this whole pure cutting edge science project almost happened here in the good old USA rather on the border between France and Switzerland. All those physicists and grad students would have been working in Texas if Senator Phil Graham hadn't treated the Superconducting Super Collider as a pork project with little or no understanding from the federal funders. The SSC was designed to be better than twice the size of the LHC, and therefore capable to accelerate hadrons to much higher speeds. The jury is out on wether the LHC can bash protons together with enough energy to answer the questions that the LHC was designed to answer. We'll see. 

1 comment:

JTankers said...

Hopefully the energy level will not be high enough to answer the question "are micro black holes safe?"

"A nightmarish situation, that can still be hoped to be averted in time through communication within the scientific community, is drawn attention to. Only a few weeks remain to find out whether the danger is real or nothing but a mirage. After this time window is closed, it will take years until we know whether or not we are doomed. The story line has all the features of a best-selling novel. The reader is asked to contribute constructively."

Quote from Dr. Otto E. Rossler, Professor Theoretical Biochemist, visiting Professor of Theoretical Physics, inventor of the Rossler Attractor, founder of Endophysics, winner of the 2003 Chaos Award of the University of Liege and the 2003 Rene Descartes Award.